After it was reported that Lionel Messi would not have been allowed to stay at FC Barcelona and play for free, club president Joan Laporta has now suggested otherwise.
It was once widely considered unthinkable for many that Barca's all-time leading goalscorer Messi would ever leave the Camp Nou.
However, the inconceivable became a reality when, in August, Laporta announced that their talisman would not be given a new contract due to the club's financial inability to do so.
It was also revealed then that the LaLiga giants had accrued more than £1 billion (R20.2 billion) in debt and recorded a £409 million (R8.2 billion) loss in the 2020/21 season, per the Daily Mail.
Laporta has now revealed that, with the financial crisis the club found itself in, he hoped that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would offer to play for free, even though it has previously been suggested that this would not legally be allowed.
"With Messi, I do not get angry because I appreciate him," he said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1.
"But when we see that he could not stay, there is a certain disappointment on both sides. I know they had a huge desire to stay, but [had] a lot of pressure because of the offer they had.
"Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG. Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew that from Messi's side they had a very good offer.
"I did hope that, at the last minute, Messi would say he would play for free. I would have liked that and he would have convinced me.
"I understand that the league would have accepted it. But we cannot ask that of a player of his level.
"I thought it because I know him, he went up to the first team when I was there, I helped his family a lot.
"He knew that when we [have] our economic situation recovered, he would be reciprocated."
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